by user marcvsxiv

So I just got back from the Garden thoroughly disgusted. UConn played without heart or strength or intelligence or pride. They didn't play offense, they didn't play defense. It was like they expected to win just because they stepped on the floor in UConn jerseys. That is how Duke plays. That's why I’ve lived all my life hating Duke. This is a nightmare. A twisted twighlight zone episode. I woke up this morning a Duke fan.

To be fair, this is a bit overstated: It is hard to find fault with Denham Brown's or, in particular, Jeff Adrien's performances. And, of course, Rashad Anderson did hustle after his own, though only his own, missed shots.

The takeaway is that UConn is going to be lucky to make it to the sweet sixteen this year for roughly the same two reasons that it didn't make it last year: It does not have a second ball handler, and Rudy Gay has not grown into the player that Charlie Villanueva didn’t grow into last year.

Which gets to my biggest gripe. Of the entire sickening mess that UConn subjected its fans to (did Coach Calhoun forget to tell his players to guard McNamara when he took the time out with 11 seconds in regulation? Speaking of which, did he take the timeout as a favor to Jimmy Boeheim?), the most nauseating was Rudy Gay. Rudy Gay is a cancer. The utter absence of heart and pride begins with him. Sure he is a phenomenal talent, and sure he, as Villanueva, will have a fine professional career, but he already plays like he was on the Knicks. He spent virtually the whole game -- with one or two interludes for the scouts and Sportscenter -- mindlessly drifting between half-court and the three point line waiting to be drafted. He did, on occasion, get back to defend against the break, although that overstates it since he was already back. Compared to him, Villanueva seems a veritable Rudy (the Sean Astin variety).

Having had to live through Villanueva and Gay, I can say with a clear head and full conviction, I wish they both went to Duke, where they could have played 1-2 years of insipid, uninspired college ball before moving on to play 8-12 years of insipid, uninspired professional ball. I don’t want to see another player who thinks he could have gone straight to the NBA in a UConn jersey. I wish to God I could get back to rooting for the Chris Smiths, Donny Marshalls, Donyell Marshalls, Travis Knights, Ricky Moores, Khalid El-Amins, Rip Hamiltons, Jake Voskuhls, Caron Butlers, and Ben Gordons. The kids that were passed over by the "Big Schools" for being too small or too old or too thin or too fat or too slow. The kids that played scrappy, with heart, that never got the credit they deserved (and in Rip's case, still don't), that played with a well deserved chip on their shoulder, that had something to prove and who, time and again, proved it. The kids that never stopped working or improving (as opposed the likes of Josh Boone who peaked as a freshman). The reasons why it is UConn and not Duke or UNC (who have more McDonald All Americans on their benches then UConn does in its history) that won two of the last six championships. In short, players who reflect Jim Calhoun. Or at least players who reflect who Jim Calhoun used to be.


Thu 03/09/06, 3:36 pm EST

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